Ecuador’s president extends state of emergency to fight crime

QUITO – Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso has renewed the 30-day state of emergency in nine of the country’s 24 provinces as his government tries to curb crime allegedly linked to drug use and trafficking.

The renewal will keep military patrols on the streets in areas with high murder rates and other drug-related crimes.

Lasso originally had decreed a 60-day state of emergency Last month. The country’s Constitutional Court cut the duration to 30 days and said the military could only assist the police if their help was justified.

“President Guillermo Lasso has declared the state of emergency on October 18, 2021 for a further 30 days in the provinces of El Oro, Guayas, Santa Elena, Manabi, Los Rios, Esmeraldas, Santo Domingo, Pichincha. extended and Sucumbios, ”said Lasso’s press office on Thursday.

In a decree released on Friday, Lasso said the measures taken during the first 30 days of the state of emergency have been effective but have not neutralized the root causes of the rise in crime.

The murder rate fell from 1.84 per 100,000 inhabitants in September to 0.63 in November, the government said in the decree.

Security forces carried out more than 230,000 operations, broken up 76 gangs, seized 16 tons of drugs and arrested 7,000 people in the past month, the Interior Ministry said on Twitter.

Authorities said more than 70% of violent deaths in Guayas province, home of the city of Guayaquil, were caused by drug trafficking.

Violence has also increased in the country’s prisons. at At least 62 prisoners died last week in the Penitenciaria del Litoral prison in Guayaquil amid gang fighting.

Lasso declared the prison system, long criticized for overcrowding, poor living conditions for inmates and violence, under a 60-day state of emergency in September, freeing up government funds and providing limited military aid.

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